Why are so many of those who are passionate about conservation not more politically conservative by nature?
I found myself musing on this (not for the first time) as I read a recent Economist article on why large parts of the UK Conservative party seem to have stopped being conservative. The article reminded us that Michael Oakeshott, the philosopher, said that to be conservative ...
“is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss.”
This is not quite a description of those who are conservation-minded but there is certainly a reasonable fit between the two. I suppose the answer to this riddle lies in our ability to separate out things in our minds; to think one thing about X and another about Y even though X and Y are closely linked if we choose to see it.
An equally good question, of course, is why are so many political conservatives not more passionate about conservation seen not in a narrow limited sphere, but in the round and more in the world. The answer to that riddle certainly lies in Oakeshott as they:
"... prefer the familiar to the unknown, ... the tried to the untried, ... the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, ... .”
I'd say that it's this second riddle that is the bigger problem.
Just want to recommend Corey Robin's work on the history of conservatism:
It's a fantastic book and explains much of Trumpism, Brexit, the global rejection of neoliberalism, the monied interests behind maintaining the energy status quo, etc., etc. Highly recommend.